I can't believe it's been (over) a month since we got back from Iceland! It's been a really slow process of going through hundreds of photos to recap, and I've come to accept that there is no way I can do our trip justice. Instead of doing a full recap, I just wanted to share a couple things that might be useful if you are planning a trip to the most beautiful place on earth!
1. Rent a campervan! Early on, James and I decided to rent a camper instead of staying in hostels, hotels, or guesthouses. After doing a bunch of online research and reading of reviews, we settled on Kúkú Campers. They're a relatively new company, and their schtick is clearly aimed at a younger crowd (for instance, all their vans have art on the side), but we learned after that they are basically the same as Go Campers if you prefer a more subtle option. We paid a little bit extra to get a newer category AB van, and it was THE BEST. Having the flexibility to go where we wanted (save category F roads), take naps wherever, and choose the most stunning campsites was priceless. We were really impressed with the van itself too! It comes with everything you need to camp (wee stove, wash buckets, soap, pots etc.), and the bed was surprisingly comfortable. Now, it wasn't the cheapest thing, but if you consider that the van acts as your wheels and your hotel, it's not that bad (even in high season when we went!). Also, if you are considering this option and are tall, James is 6'2" and was able to stretch out in the back fully. When we go back, though, we will definitely spring for the 4x4 option to do some offroading.
2. If you do bare-bones planning before you go, things will still be OK. This trip really snuck up on us, and as such we didn't do much planning beforehand. We had a vague idea of some stuff to do, but we were still debating whether we would cruise the south coast or hit the westfjords while on the plane. We did get a guidebook and would take turns picking things we wanted to see. In hindsight, we did miss some things that seemed great that we could have caught with more planning, but whatever. I'm a bit of an annoying traveller in that I need to know where I'm going at all times, but the freedom to just shout "TURN OFF HERE" and find something you didn't expect was pretty great.
3. Be prepared to sound utterly stupid while navigating. Bless the language guide in our book, but trying to pronounce Icelandic landmarks is a little bit hilarious. See above. And below.
4. It is possible to do Iceland on a budget. If there is one thing I heard over and over while planning this trip is how dang expensive Iceland is... and that is all true. For example, gas in Canada has been hovering around $1/L, and in Iceland we were paying the equivalent of $2.20/L or so. Beds at hostels were easily above $45CAD/night, a pint cost well over $7CAD, and a tiny cup of black coffee at a gas station cost $3CAD. You get the idea. After running all the numbers, this trip cost each of us $1200CAD for 6 days including flights, food, car, gas, campsites, ferry rides, activities, airport bus. All of it. We're fairly frugal travellers at the best of times, but it's insane how much you can save by cooking your own food (and not cooking anything too fancy). This is definitely the most expensive trip we have ever taken together based on cost per day, but the costs were spread out over many months so it didn't hurt very badly at all.
5. No matter how you do it, you will have fun! Just make sure you get out of the city, OK? Reykjavik is lovely, but after spending 5 days out in nature the city felt so flat.
Now, this isn't so much a bullet point as an observation. With the huge influx of cheap airlines, so come the tourists. (I know, pot meet kettle) I don't mean some tourists. I mean, vast swaths of tourists who behave so, so badly. I don't want to toot our own horns, but James and I grew up frequenting the mountains and were always taught the importance of leaving a place at least in the condition you found it, if not in better condition. There were enough people we saw climbing where they shouldn't climb, leaving garbage, driving on the landscape, that I can't imagine what the country will start looking like at this rate. I want to tell people that they should go before everything becomes roped off and ruined, but then that just speeds up the process.. so.. If you go, make sure you are a responsible tourist, OK?
That's about all for me. I know this is a lot of text, so thanks for staying through to the end! I have one more post planned, and that's to go through the yarn I picked up. Happy knitting, all!